If you’re not familiar with London or the South East, you may not know about the Cutty Sark which is the oldest surviving tea clipper ship built in 1869, which was also the fastest in her time. It’s been recently restored after recent fires, with lots of hands on activities for children and toddlers. It’s in Greenwich, on the edge of the Thames – just minutes away from the other Greenwich attractions such as the park, market and National Maritime Museum and The Royal Observatory. Surprisingly, although we’re big fans of Greenwich and have visited many times – we’d never actually been on The Cutty Sark and just admired it from the outside. We visited this weekend though and found it to be a fun place to explore for kids.
First up, you can travel to the Cutty Sark via tube (North Greenwich Station) or you can drive and park in the pay and display car park near the Trafalgar Tavern. This is the favourite bit of any of our trips to Greenwich because Mr M and I had our wedding reception there!
I think the Cutty Sark is what you call a ‘living museum’ because you climb aboard the actual boat and then there are two floors of musuem exhibitions – all which are hands on for kids and innovative so it would make a good school holiday activity. Aren’t we spoilt for choice with kid friendly museums these days?! Finlay’s favourite part of the museum was an interactive map where you get to pretend to drive a real ship and navigate the rocks. Highlights for Elodie and Orla were writing a letter to a sailor which you could post in a post box and the second floor, where there are interactive games to play, knots to tie and a swinging seat to feel the waves. Although Orla said she felt a little sea-sick after this! There are lots of films playing to explain the voyages made by The Cutty Sark and we were entertained by a sea shanty group who sung around the ship.
Next you can explore the top of the ship which has lovely views of Canary Wharf and the markets in Greenwich. It was funny to see the spectacular shipping masts in the frame of the modern Canary Wharf, depicting how much times have changed. On the top deck, kids can ring the ship’s bell and our kiddos spent ages climbing in and out of the shipmates bunk beds! If you’re lucky, you can catch a performance from one of Cutty Sark’s characters – we saw Mrs Ray who recounted tales of her son at sea which brought the ship to life.
There is a cafe on the ground floor which also shows the remarkable view of underneath the ship, it’s been elevated by 3 metres and so you can see it’s bottom in full glory – it’s very impressive!
We expected the Cutty Sark to not be suitable for buggies but we were pleasantly surprised – it’s easy to navigate a buggy around the ship using the lifts they have to access the different floors although, part of the fun of the ship for toddlers is the windy steps to each floor and climbing the rigging!
If you’re visiting Greenwich, The Cutty Sark is not to be missed as a fun exploration and a spot of History. We spent a few hours there exploring and then heading for a street food lunch overlooking the Thames from some of the food stalls they have in Greenwich! Delicious!
If you’re looking for more things to do in London, check out our Top Ten Places to visit with kids in South East London.
Please check out our little video of our day!